I have been in this job for just over a year.  In May 2011, I strapped myself into the rollercoaster and let myself go.  It has been quite a ride,  but I am still smiling and I hope that I have helped save some wildlife on the way.

There are some things that I do in this job that are a real pleasure - such as this weekend's Council visit to the Midlands.  It was great to see the work that we are doing with others in Sherwood Forest (with Sherwood Forest Trust and the Forestry Commission), Cannock Chase (with Cemex), Middleton Lakes (with the local Council) and Langford Lowfields (with Tarmac).  Four projects at various stages of development and lots of great potential for connecting to people with wildlife.  Oh and we saw a few birds too - 93 species including excellent views of Hobby at both Middleton and Langford, Woodlark at Sherwood and Redstart at Cannock Chase.  In the annual competition for predicting the number of bird species we see in the weekend, I predicted 87.  Close, but no cigar.

But there are some things that I still find difficult to stomach. 

Last week we heard that a goshawk's nest had been destroyed in the Peak District.  Yet another crime in an area that has suffered a long series of attacks on birds of prey - the most recent confirmed case being Glen Brown, a gamekeeper convicted of using a caged pigeon to lure birds of prey to a trap.  The latest incident means that we are now down to just one active goshawk nest in the entire Derwent Valley.  A miserable state of affairs.

We are not alone in condemning this illegal activity.

Adult Goshawk in flight, Mike Langman artwork.

Hazel Earnshaw, of Severn Trent Water, said last week: “We are sickened that this protected species has once again been subject to persecution, despite extensive efforts to protect it. The Goshawk should form a natural part of the ecosystem here in the Upper Derwent Valley. We are working closely with the RSPB to protect these birds and to identify the guilty parties."

Derbyshire Police have launched an investigation of this crime and we are offering a reward of £1000 for information leading to a conviction.  The Derbyshire Constabulary is encouraging anyone with any information relating to this incident to contact the Police immediately on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Our wildlife faces many big, complicated challenges: climate change and habitat destruction being just two. 

It is therefore frustrating and deeply depressing that in 2012 we still have to report needless and senseless crimes such as the destruction of a goshawk nest.  But we will not stop putting a spotlight on the illegal killing of birds of prey, helping the police enforce the law and advocating tougher wildlife legislation.

And this is why, this week I shall focus on the challenge we face in keeping birds of prey flying.  Tomorrow, I turn my attention to hen harriers.

What do you think is the right package of measures to stamp out bird crime?

It would be great to hear your views.

  • Oh come on Martin use your influence and lets get this as a priority and if you want other protection then let it follow on.It should not be either or.The RSPB finds funds for things where there are more of a species in England than there are Hen Harriers nesting.You are definitely losing income and goodwill on this issue as others almost certainly feel like I do that is I will not support anything the RSPB is involved in if this chance is wasted.

    Talk about Spoon Billed Sandpipers Hen Harriers will soon be extinct in England.It is a farce that you do things all over the world and really let down our own BOP.

    For goodness sake if you think that this petition does not cover estate owners then explain that it doesn't and set a RSPB one up that does but as Scotland has this surely it covers estate owners.

  • Thanks all for your suggestions.  Regarding the petition, I appreciate the concern regarding the Number 10 petition.  We do, as you say Glossy Ibis, support the petition.  We are exploring ways to give the petition a boost.  We want it to go over 100,000 to trigger a parliamentary debate.  

    But more importantly we want vicarious liability for estate owners where gamekeeprs are convicted.  

    This is a central part of our submission to the current Law Commission review of wildlife management legislation.  This will complete its review later this year and then there is likely to be some sort of consolidating legislation which we will argue vigorously should include this new measure.  And this will, of course, be a key feature of our advocacy and campaigning effort next year.  

    The petition to trigger a parliamentary debate would be useful but it is frustrating, of course, that only two or three years ago we generated over 230,000 signatures of support to end the illegal killing of birds of prey.  We have to make a judgement about how and when we invest considerably promotional energy to our membership.  And, as is ever the case, there are quite a few other things that have attracted our attention over the pasts few months.

    But it is timely nudge.  So thank you!

  • As a first step I don't understand why the RSPB isn't throwing it's full weight behind the e-petition for vicarious liability for estate owners where gamekeepers are convicted. The petition still has only just over 9000 signatures and the RSPB over one million members who should be actively targeted to sign up. There is still time as the closing date is Nov. 2012. I know that the RSPB has said it supports the petition but it is not trying hard enough!

  • The one thing that can be done simply at the moment is for the RSPB to have a big campaign and get Chrissie's petition upto the 100,000 signatures,find it hard to believe it will happen in which case I think you are simply letting down all BOP and all of us who love them.

    Sorry to be so critical but you are the only people who can organise this.

    Other things would be very difficult to do that would help BOP as these landowners have the right friends to help them do their dastardly deeds.

    I buy into JOHN Bs dream.

    Of course what would be ideal and stop it for certain is that each shoot had to be licensed to have shooting and if any crimes committed and proven against BOP the license taken away for 10 years,a really big dream.

  • I agree with much of above ! Hen Harriers are even more a case in point. I have always believed that "bail" or "term" conditions ie restriction orders should include exclusion orders from likely scenes of crime; particularly relevant to eggers.

    However this week Occupy relaunches; fascism is on the march across Southern Europe and I note that 1.8 trillion moved offshore in 2011(into a offshore total of 20 trillion (which is enough to pay off all national debts)) these monies are then being loaned back to beleaguered govts and democracies at crippling rates of interest.

    This is utterly unsustainable; the solution is to repatriate these funds back to national govts. The wider environmental movement has to address this issue or be "ConDemed" to stand "impartial and impotent" in this tide of history. How does the saying go ? It only takes good men to stay silent?